A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that registration is free; kids need to enter a username, password, and email. Their profile can include their gender, city, website URL, and a brief bio. ToonDoo says efforts have been made to make the site safe for kids, but because "users come from different countries and socio-cultural backgrounds, it is virtually impractical to monitor all the content" -- so it relies on users to report inappropriate items. The library of homemade cartoons includes a variety of tame and not-so-innocent content.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
Kids can use ToonDoo to create and share single- multi-panel comic strips. The cartoon tool offers an impressive amount of creative control: Kids can sketch their own images or use clip art. They can also \"like\" other users' cartoons or add captions, if the artist is OK with it. Some of the user-created content isn't for kids -- but if you encourage your child to stick to just using the cartoon tool to make comics, the site can offer helpful storytelling and writing practice.
Is it any good?
Billed as the world's fastest way to create cartoons, TOONDOO also offers kids an outlet to share their comics. Unlike some cartoon sites, which only allow you to import images, ToonDoo offers an ample library of clip art and the ability to doodle your own pictures. The site also has some nifty ways of encouraging users to participate: In addition to making their own comic, users can also like other creations or add captions to other users' cartoons, if the owner allows it. However, you may not want your child aimlessly flipping through all the content on the site: Although some images may provide artistic inspiration, others contain nudity, bad language, and other for-adults-only items.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the challenges of telling a story with more pictures than words. How can you show action using only still images?
Kids may be used to hearing or reading stories, but creating their own is a whole new experience. Talk about a recent event in your child's life that could be turned into a comic strip: What would the beginning, middle, and end be? How could you illustrate the action?
Some comics on the site include swears, gory violence, and other adult themes. When your child is ready to create a cartoon, discuss what images and story elements might not be appropriate to use -- even though it might seem OK at first because they aren't being depicted in real life (such as in a photograph).